Fifty years ago, the wielders of the sacred Rave stones fought against an onslaught caused by demon stones called Dark Bring. This war resulted in an explosion known as "Overdrive"—a blast so powerful that it sent the Dark Bring into a deep slumber and scattered the pieces of Rave across the world.
In the present, Haru Glory lives a peaceful life on Garage Island until one day, he catches the creature Plue while fishing. Plue is later recognized by Shiba Roses, an old man who happens to be the original Rave Master. Shiba explains that the Dark Bring has resurfaced, and that to stop it, assembling the scattered parts of Rave is of utmost urgency. However, before Shiba can leave on this mission, he is attacked by a soldier from the evil organization Demon Card, forcing him to transfer the power of Rave to Haru. With the fate of humankind resting on his shoulders, the new Rave Master begins his quest to find the scattered Rave fragments.
Rave was published in English by Tokyopop as Rave Master for 32 volumes from February 11, 2003 to February 10, 2009, until their license with Kodansha expired. Del Rey later gained the license and published the final three volumes in a single omnibus on May 24, 2011. Kodansha Comics USA digitally published the entire series in single volumes on October 3, 2017. It was also published in Spanish by Norma Editorial from February 2004 to February 2010.
When people hear the name Hiro Mashima today, they instantly think of his most recent work, Fairy Tail, which is steadily growing in popularity since its debut in 2006. However, its clearly easy to see where Fairy Tail's roots come from when one decides to undertake his previous, massive shounen story, Groove Adventure Rave. The anime adaptation of Groove Adventure Rave, named Rave Master, suffered considerably because of character designs that were not consistent with the manga counterpart, and because the anime adaptation covered only the first 90 chapters or so, leaving many unanswered questions and open plot holes. Groove Adventure Rave
is a story that is unbelievably shounen, through and through. However, despite obvious plot twists and predictable characters, it still does not take away on what turns out to be a highly enjoyable read about a teenager's coming of age journey to save the world.
Haru Glory, Rave's shounen hero, is a young teenager living away from civilization with his sister on Garage Island. One day, an old man happens to pass through the Island and Haru eventually learns the identity of this old man is none other than the Rave Master, a hero that is destined to save the world from the atrocious organization, Demon Card, who plan on ruling the world. The old man, in poor health, eventually passes on his title and sword to Haru, entrusting him to find the Rave Stones to stop Demon Card. And thus Haru, becomes the 2nd Rave Master. Early on in his journey, Haru meets a young girl, Elie, who has amnesia and is seeking the truth about her past. This fateful meeting will eventually trigger events that become the foundation that eventually shakes the world.
From this synopsis, any reader familiar with shounen stories can get a sense of what kind of adventures, pitfalls, powers, themes, etc., Haru and Elie will encounter in their journey, and without fail, Mashima utilizes all of them. The sudden power ups, the talk about dreams overpowering thirst for power, friendship overcoming critical death status, so on and so forth. Groove Adventure Rave has all these shounen plot elements and in today's standards, the story starts to get pretty predictable as to what will occur. Fortunately, there are a few plot twists that occur deep in the story which some readers will be surprised to learn about, and it are those saving graces which help keep the reader entertained.
Readers familiar with and fans of the art in Fairy Tail will easily come to love the art Mashima utilizes in Rave because its the same exact style. While not as refined in the early chapters, Mashima designs his character rather attractively, the men with defined muscles and distinct faces; the women with heavenly chests and attractively looking figures. The battles are rather easy to follow, however, there are some instances where things tend to get a bit cluttered. The only critique I do have with his art is that Mashima does sacrifice detail in the background. This is especially apparent during battles, where the background will either be plain white or black. But again, this isn't too bad, as it does make the battles easier to follow.
While the characters look attractive, their personalities are rather predictable. Meaning, Haru is your typical shounen male lead; Elie is your typical female co-lead, and the same with all of the other characters Mashima introduces. They are nothing you haven't seen before, both good and evil. On the other hand, Mashima is able to adequately tell the history's of each of his characters without taking up too many pages or chapters, which is a nice change of pace from other stories where character past's are either too long or too short. Though character personalities really don't undergo a drastic overhaul from start to finish, all of the main heroes do evolve in a sense where you'll be able to pinpoint the difference from when a character was first introduced and where that character is during the last chapters.
Despite Groove Adventure Rave being the poster child for all things shounen, there is something about the story and the way Mashima goes about storytelling that makes it all seem enjoyable. You actually start caring for what happens to Haru and Elie, and watch in awe as their relationship develops from acquaintances to love throughout the plot. Mashima introduces a plethora of different characters that help shape all of the different arcs, and despite the length of the story, with the exception of a few gag chapters inserted in between, you never get the sense that Mashima doesn't know where he's going with the story. Although the story does go from point A to point B without much deviation, it's still an enjoyable read.
One of the big knocks I do have is the fact that almost every evil character, after being defeated, will undergo an instantaneous change from evil to good, which gets to be really old, really quick.
After reading Groove Adventure Rave, its easy to see where many of the ideas, character and guild names arise in Fairy Tail. All in all, if you're looking for a lengthy shounen, "coming of age" journey of a young man, with a nice side of romance, Groove Adventure Rave is something you'll definitely want to check out.
Groove Adventure Rave, or Rave Master, was the first long-running manga of the mangaka now acclaimed for Fairy Tail. I used to be pretty biased towards it, due to it being one of my first manga, but the nostalgia wore off on my latest reread.
At one point a character is introduced as being just an ally of Demon Card, which is this manga’s cliché “evil organization.” Then it's decided that he's a Demon Card general, but he is the weakest of the generals. Then it's decided that he's somehow the strongest. I’m not basing this on observation, I’m actually
writing it based on what people in the manga said. Observation is useless when determining power tiers in this manga regardless. Many characters are endowed with completely broken powers, such as the ability to absorb all life, the ability to create anything from nothing, the ability to control gravity, physical invulnerability, regeneration, the ability to twist and break any object, or the power to pulverize anything that touches the user's skin, but they either don't use those abilities in the big battles, they don’t use them to their full potential, or the powers just don't work due to the willpower and power of friendship possessed by the heroes. In most battle shounen, the protagonists always win, but it's still fun to see how. In Rave Master, it just isn't. The battles always follow the same exact arc and I consistently find myself thinking "really, again?" Dark Bring powers get repetitive and some of them are rip-offs of each other. We never fully understand the mechanics behind the characters’ powers either. The way Dark Bring are created is changed about 4 separate times, along with the tiers of them, their extra abilities, what effect they have on the user, and how they are distributed, and then magic is eventually thrown in and utilized in a very cliché manner. In the Q&A section of an early volume the author admits that he did no little to no planning before writing Rave, and it really does show. This is an incredibly lazily told story.
Unlike in the world of One Piece, where people almost never die no matter what, or in an actual realistic manga where people die all the time, people only die in Rave when the plot commands it. Someone can be riddled with stab wounds, get hit with a blast that is imbued with infinite energy, get shot in the head, be struck by lightning, be fatally poisoned, or fall from an aircraft and be perfectly fine, but a wooden-staff inflicted stab wound or a falling rock is enough to kill some of the stronger characters. At one point a little kid gets riddled with machine gun bullets, and he is shown dying, but he is magically resurrected for the convenience of the plot. Well, no, he is never even resurrected, that would be absurd. Instead, the mangaka just ignores the clear fact that he died.
This manga is filled with like contradictions. Sometimes the main characters are perfectly fine with killing people and sometime they aren't. At one point one of their best friends goes missing and is presumed dead for about 5 to 10 volumes. They never mourn or mention him while he's gone and then he just pops up again, somehow managing to know exactly where they would be. At one point it’s stated that two characters are close friends, but then it turns out that one just tried to kill the other once and that was the extent of their relationship. I have no idea how the characters mixed those two concepts up, but that happened. At one point, several main antagonists are killed off and are instantaneously vaporized in a huge explosion; later they reappear with the half-assed excuse of “dude, we had a bunker” even though there’s no possible way they could have seen the explosion coming or hidden anywhere in the vicinity of the blast. Just to make matters worse, events like this, among others, are constantly alluded to by characters who could not possibly know that those events took place. These inconsistencies and plot holes litter the manga. If spoilers were allowed, and if it wouldn't be unnecessarily redundant, then I could spend an entire 3000 word review listing them all. Seriously, I listed them all out on my latest reread, just to get a feel for how bad it was, and I hit that milestone around the halfway point without even using complete sentences or paragraphs. This manga is also filled with anti-climaxes and half-assed explanations that were clearly written after the fact. As a fan of One Piece and Fullmetal Alchemist, I think continuity is one of the most important things in any battle shounen. The lack of continuity destroys the atmosphere, kills the world-building, gets rid of all empathy the audience has built up for the characters, and makes the combat more contrived in addition to being less compelling.
The art is bad for the first seven volumes and it never really gets good at anything but fanservice. The characters are all more primitive versions of designs that were recycled for Fairy Tail characters. About halfway through, the art quality peaks at "mediocre" and stays there for the duration of the plot. It’s generally not very creative or detailed. What I can say about it is that it's usually easy to follow, although the character designs aren't too distinctive.
Just about all of the cute women love the main protagonist, without him ever really having to do anything but be his annoyingly cliché idealistic self. The main antagonist for the second half of the series is supposed to be very charismatic, but the source of this charisma and influence over others is not at all apparent to the audience. Characters' entire personalities are changed by tiny things like seeing a pretty dance. Villains are portrayed as absolutely evil, then they are all given some little contrived sob story; they were originally great guys but they turned evil and did bad stuff because they were lonely or because their wife died. The characters are often supposed to be funny, but far too much of the humor consists of ridiculously immature fart jokes and recycled facial expressions. The main cast also consists of a mindless pet, a delinquent with a heart of gold, an airheaded heroine, a perverted land jellyfish, and a dragon-person with a ridiculously inconsistent personality. I barely know what to make of the characters except that they all suck.
This manga is not very good. I found the combat to somehow be less boring than Fairy Tail was (not saying much,) but the issues with continuity ruined it. Then the art and characters made it even worse. This all culminates in a lackluster and bland conclusion, which makes me wonder why anybody would want to read through the whole thing in the first place. There are better and more creative battle shounens out there. A whole lot of them. This manga brings nothing new to the formula and continually trips over itself even while telling the most predictable story possible.
Today, I am going to write a review on Groove Adventure Rave, otherwise known as Rave Master. I am going to try a different format today. We will dissect this manga in slightly different aspects.
~ Exemplary Shounen-ness ~
First of all, Rave Master is Shounen. There is no dispute about it. It is also a good Shounen, and that means that every once in a while, readers starts to feel blood rushing into their heads. Or, as I would like to put it, it is epic. In this regard, it is on par with Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, etc. As we will soon see, though,
Shounen is definitely not the only strength it possesses.
~ Amalgam of Genres ~
Another noteworthy trait about Rave Master is that expands its territories to encompass more elements than what a standard battle Shounen would include. Of course, all topnotch (popular) Shounen has shown this characteristic to some extent, but rave master has done this especially well. Other than action, fantasy, and comedy, RM puts a heavy emphasis on adventure (much like One Piece), drama, and even romance. Granted, the romance aspect is nowhere as explored as it is in romance-oriented manga. It is still a respectable amount of other elements added to this epic Shounen saga without ruining the Shounen aspect of it.
Moreover, while RM has more in variety, it cuts down on fan-service. This is a fantastic news to most of the readers who are tired of freakishly common occurrence of boobs on manga pages, but maybe bad news for those of you who find an excessive fan-service enjoyable. Nevertheless, the romance in RM makes up for a lack of fan-service.
~ World Construction ~
It is among some of the best world construction pieces ever found in fantasy manga, probably because the mangaka is a huge fan of Eiichiro Oda, creator of One Piece. Readers who appreciate a frequent change of setting throughout the narration of a story will surely love this.
~ Art ~
Depending on how much the readers like the art in One Piece, or a more direct comparison, Fairy Tail, there will be different opinions on the quality of art. Personally, I found this kind of a style quite different from a majority of other manga, in a refreshing and enjoyable way.
~ Character ~
Instead of talking about the entire character cast, I will only talk about the male lead, Haru Glory, which is, again, what sets this manga apart from all other Shounen.
Typically, male lead (in Shounen) is a bold, determined, adventurous, righteous individual in the manliest way. Obviously, there is an underlying flaw to this setup. It requires the male lead to be also a bit slow in the head and sometimes an EQ way below that of an average person. If I have to state one reason that a lot of people hate Shounen, this is why.
Fortunately, Haru Glory defies this rule. Sure, he has the typical boldness, an adventurous spirit, and determination, but in moderation. On the other hand, he is thoughtful, sensitive, and knows when to give up. Somehow, he seems like more like a person one can relate to instead of just an icon of justice (like Naruto).
~ Story ~
Where this manga truly shines. I said in previous posts that Psyren is a case of good brain-storming. Then, RM must be an incidence of phenomenal overall planning.
Let me remind you of another illness that befall most popular Shounen, the story will slow down between different arcs, and will almost come to a halt before the grand finale. For the most parts, this doesn’t apply to RM.
I will give you a succinct flow chart summary of my experience reading this manga:
Slow Start –> Gradual intensifying plot –> Epicness –> building up intensity –> Epicness
… … (repeats cycle)
(A few slowdown in between)
… … (repeats cycle)
FLASHBACK -> MIND-FUCKED in an amazing way
--> Grand Finale Battle --> Epic Ending!
Overall, Rave Master is a manga that contain most of the shounen epicness as well as tropes and cliches, but also worked around it so that these cliches are not so annoying anymore. It has a typical yet more likable male lead. Its story does not feel disjointed with the construction of different arcs. It has a good balance of different categories, and a comfortable pacing. Ultimately, perhaps most importantly of all, it is completed, so that readers will not agonize over one chapter per week.
Groove adventure rave is a rather unique manga. The story is quiet simple and usual, but after some point(where the anime series ends) the storyline becomes better and better. The art is wonderfull, both with unsual creatures and great characters. I recomment this manga to all manga lovers and to all who finished the anime.
So we have a bunch of powerful mages, villains and dragons who encompass the thrilling Fairy Tail universe. But which of them are truly the strongest Fairy Tail characters of the lot. It's time to step inside the battle field, and settle the score once and for all!